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Self Aware's greatest hits 

As the local label celebrates its five-year anniversary, we offer up five of its greatest hits.

Editor's Note: Read our story on Self Aware Records here.


Late Bloomer
Things Change
Release date: June 27, 2014 (Split release with Tor Johnson Records)

It's fitting that Josh Robbins' own band will release what might well be Self Aware's best record yet in the month when the label turns 5. Also including guitarist Neil Mauney and drummer Scott Wishart, Late Bloomer roundly upgrades the old-school indie rock churning from last year's self-titled debut. The rhythm section is sleeker, with Robbins finding easy through lines amid Wishart's crazed volleys, and the guitars are tremendous, tangling and twisting through piercing harmonies, building up momentum that's unleashed during wrenching catharses. Things Change roundly earns every Archers of Loaf comparison it's likely to get — and it won't suffer by that lofty association.


Totally Slow
Totally Slow
Release date: Sept. 30, 2013 (Split release with Headfirst! Records)

Inhabiting pop-punk with tons of earnest energy and zero shame, Greensboro's Totally Slow gave Self Aware one of its true high-water marks with this LP debut. Songs like the opening "Wasted Days" are straightforward, sprinting through nervy riffs and rhythms, packing youthful anxiety into wonderfully ragged choruses. But they know other tricks, too, such as the hyper-charged rockabilly lilt that powers "Worst Case."


Old Flings
Release date: Oct. 15, 2012 (Split release with Bitter Melody Records)

Marked by inoffensive chugging and Matt Evans' Vedder-ish tales of love lost and never regained, this record reaffirmed Self Aware's taste for emotive indie rock — not to mention its ability to discern when such a band is genuinely putting its own twist on the well-trod style. "Merry Go Round," for instance, sounds like Superchunk if they replaced their uppers with downers, determined riffs mounting a staccato charge behind Evans, who murmurs, "The kids are all crazy/They've got that look in their eyes."


Nö Pöwer
No Axis 7-inch
Release date: Dec. 11, 2011 (Split release with Ink Blot Records)

While Nö Pöwer would further refine its punishing onslaught before releasing the 12-inch No Peace via Carrboro's Sorry State Records in early 2013, this single finds the burly punk crew at its most vicious. "New Answers" stomps and scalds for more than three minutes, testing stamina with Rob Davis' echoing bellows and the band's pile-driving intensity. The title track moves more like traditional hardcore, Nö Pöwer's dense and scraping distortion rendering it even more violent — and exhilarating.


Broken Speech 7-inch
Release date: June 9, 2009

Lowbrow's hardcore swell is built on sludgy heft, but that didn't stop the group from keeping its tempos quick and their arrangements tricky. Witness "Callous Hands" with its rapid-fire concussions giving way to strung-out distortion during the song's finale, or the closing title track, which places ominous guitar under nihilistic spoken word before erupting with scorching heaviness. With a local band making noise worthy of national recognition, this first single got Self Aware going in the right direction.

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